By John Grisham
Published by Doubleday, 1997
ISBN 0385472951, 9780385472951
- The Partner
begins in Ponta Pora, Brazil, where Patrick Lanigan, (once a junior partner in a prominent Biloxi law firm), was doing his best to hide from his past. He went to extraordinary lengths: faking his own death, learning to speak a second language fluently, even surgically altering his appearance. But he is eventuallyy captured by thugs working for a former client, and is handed over to the FBI after being tortured for information concerning the massive fortune he stoll from the client, two insurance companies, and the firm. The FBI ships him back to Mississippi, where presumably he will finally have to pay for all of his scheming and manipulation.
Throughout the rest of the book, we watch as Patrick ducks the various charges leveled against him. He makes a deal with the feds, and although he has to pay back the money he stoll, he gets out of any jail time. Then, what starts out as a capital murder charge ends up as a charge of mutilating a corpse, and Patrick ends up walking away from that one with a twelve-month suspended sentence and probation, (which doesn’t prohibit him from leaving the country, let alone the county).
I found it difficult to feel any simpathy for the protagonist of this book. We find out that his reason for faking his death and running was because he was unhappy with his life. He was being screwed by his wife and his colleagues. But aside from stealing a ton of money from a crook, he manipulates his friends, as well as the love of his life, who ends up putting in a lot of leg work on his behalf, and then to top it off, he ends up getting away almost scott-free. But in the end, he ultimately loses. After having succeeded in keeping himself out of jail and off Death Row, he leaves the country, only to find that Eva Miranda, the woman he loved so much, has disappeared on him, and he finally ends up having to ask for a loan from his lawyer. I didn’t expect the book to end like this, but I suppose I’m glad it did. I would have hated to see someone who manipulated so many people come out on top. Patrick Lanigan is a character who kind of makes you feel empty inside. I think one of the most shocking acts of manipulation he engages in was stealing the corpse of an old man after his death and placing it in his vehicle to serve as the body that will enable him to convincingly fake his death. The old man was a former client, who was a friend of Patrick’s, and Patrick had been made the executor of his will. After Patrick tells his lawyer this part of his story, the lawyer pays off the only member of the man’s family in order to keep her from pressing civil charges against Patrick. This was the final obstacle Patrick needed to get around in order to stay free. For me, this was a shadow that hung over the entire story. I could deal with money being stolen from crooks I suppose, but this old man was friendless, and then, at the end of his life when he finally seems to find a friend, the friend uses him for his own ends. I think if Patrick had “gotten the girl,” it would have greatly diminished the enjoyment of the book.
I would give this book a seven out of ten, and will probably read it again in the future. But I don’t think it’s the best Grisham book I’ve ever read. I would recommend that it be read at least once. There are worse things you could be doing if you get stuck in an airport and you need something to read.